“I can’t be a hero because I am a Down’s syndrome.”
This delightful adventure-on-the-run is a modern spin on classic American fiction like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, notable for starring an actor with Down’s syndrome rather than resorting to caricature. Zack Gottsagen’s performance feels natural, the actor being both self-effacing and determined in his portrayal of a sheltered youth desperate to experience the world for himself. The striking geography of North Carolina’s coastal plain provides a grand backdrop to this journey of self-discovery. Shia LaBeouf is the ideal wilderness companion, rough and yet innately sensitive to the fact that Zak requires freedom from his constrained existence in order to develop and flourish. Sweet without being saccharine, The Peanut Butter Falcon walks the perfect line for a feelgood movie, undermined only by its abrupt ending.
“My daughter Angela was murdered 7 months ago. It seems to me the police department is too busy torturing black folk to solve actual crimes.”
Based on the talent involved, I expected to like this but I had no idea just how much. Starting with a mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter by calling out the local police department, this is really a journey through multiple characters dealing with grief and exploring the effect of tragedy upon our relationships, emerging as anger, love and fear. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are stellar in portraying richly nuanced characters, and are accompanied by an excellent supporting cast. Many scenes are soaked with such powerful emotion, whilst avoiding sentimentality through use of raw drama and dark humour, that watching the film is a cathartic experience. Of particular note, it is rare and refreshing that we see a female character whose grief is expressed through violent, misplaced rage. Martin McDonagh proved his talent with In Bruges but has seriously upped his game.